American League Wild Card Tiebreaker Open Thread: Rays at Rangers

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

A Game 163 we're not involved in! Join the conversation as we watch the Rays and Rangers square off to see who moves on to Cleveland and who goes home for the winter.

Tampa Bay Rays (91-71) at Texas Rangers (91-71)

Time/Place: 8:07 p.m., Rangers Ballpark In Arlington

SB Nation blogs: DRaysBay and Lone Star Ball

Media: TBS

Pitching Matchup: LHP David Price (9-8, 3.39 ERA) vs. LHP Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
Price 26 177.2 7.45 1.32 0.81 1.11 3.05 3.41 4.1
Perez 19 119.0 5.97 2.65 1.06 1.34 4.21 4.26 1.6

The reigning American League Cy Young winner got off to a rocky start in 2013, allowing a 5.24 ERA and eight home runs in his first nine starts before spending roughly six weeks on the disabled list with a triceps injury. Since coming back, Price has been his usual self. He has a 2.57 ERA and a ridiculous 8.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 starts, including three complete games. He is walking less than a batter per nine innings with a 0.96 WHIP during this stretch.

Price has had trouble against the Rangers in the postseason in recent years. In three career playoff starts -- all against the Rangers -- Price is 0-3 with a 4.66 ERA. He has a very Price-like 17:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but this hasn't translated to much success. All three of those starts have come at home, where Price has a career 2.78 ERA. In four regular season starts in Arlington, Price has allowed 19 runs in 16 2/3 innings. This includes arguably his worst start of the 2012 season, where he allowed six runs on 10 hits in four innings.

Martin Perez had a late start to his 2013 season when he missed the first month of the season after recovering from a forearm fracture that occurred during Spring Training. Perez didn't join the Rangers' rotation full-time until late June, but he has been remarkably consistent ever since. He hasn't allowed more than four runs in a start since July 26th and has eight quality starts in his last 11 outings.

Perez doesn't have the ridiculous strikeout-to-walk ratio that Price does, but he has done a good job of limiting his walk totals this year. He walked nearly four batters per nine innings throughout his minor league career. His strikeout rate took the usual dip in the majors this year, but his high ground ball rate has helped keep runs off the board otherwise.

Guess who's back?

Jhonny Peralta won't be the only Biogenesis suspendee in the postseason -- or whatever you want to call this game. As of Sunday evening, Nelson Cruz will reportedly be placed on the team's active roster for this game. With Price starting, there's a good chance Cruz will start in right field.

Outlook

The Rays may have their ace on the mound and the better tactical manager in their dugout, but the Rangers' home field advantage might play a big factor tonight. The Rays are just 39-41 on the road this season, including a 9-8 away record against some pretty mediocre competition in September. The Rangers, meanwhile, have a .799 OPS against left-handed starters this year and their bullpen had the second best ERA in the American League this season. The Rays' pen has been above average, but they aren't the tour de force they were last season.

Prediction

Perez keeps the Rangers close enough for their offense to mount a late inning comeback..

Starting lineups:

Rays:

D Jennings CF                                   
W Myers RF                                   
B Zobrist 2B                                   
E Longoria 3B                                   
D Young DH                                   
S Rodriguez LF                                   
J Loney 1B                                   
Y Escobar SS                                   
J Molina C
D Price P

Rangers:

I Kinsler 2B                                   
E Andrus SS                                   
A Rios RF                                   
A Beltre 3B                                   
A Pierzynski C                                   
N Cruz DH                                   
M Moreland 1B                                   
C Gentry LF                                   
L Martin CF
N Perez P

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